Monday, April 26, 2010

Foraging for Fiddleheads

A true harbinger of spring in Maine is the appearance of fiddlehead ferns in the market. They are only available for a few weeks because they are the new unfurled shoots of the Ostrich Fern. Called "fiddlehead" because they resemble the curled decorative head on a violin, when they are allowed to open into the "Ostrich Fern" they resemble the plume of an ostrich.

Mainers often closely guard their known patches of ferns which are found in moist areas near streams and ponds, but one can forage in the forest to find them for yourself.

Cooking guides insist they must be boiled twice with a change of water or steamed to leach out astringent tannins and bitterness, but experience shows that cooking just until tender yields a succulent, tasty vegetable side dish.


  1. It doesn't taste like you're eating grass or alfalfa or something? Can you just grow your own in the backyard?

  2. They taste a little like asparagus, and green beans with the same sort of texture, but definitely have their own flavor. They are a wild plant and need a certain constant moist, almost wet forest floor to grow. I suppose you could duplicate it in your garden, but it would be very difficult. It's a foraging thing like mushrooms.